Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Brewing Like Rogue

It's funny to think that Rogue, a brewery known for several renowned "classics" like Dead Guy Ale, Brutal Bitter (now annoyingly called "Brutal IPA"), Shakespeare Stout, and I2PA doesn't really brew many true-to-style beers. Indeed, of the above-named beers, only I2PA fits neatly into any BJCP category. Dead Guy Ale was inspired by Maibock, only extra hoppy and brewed with an Ale yeast. Brutal Bitter/IPA was basically meant to be Rogue's take on ESB - except it is extra bitter, wonderfully hoppy, and fermented dryer and cleaner than most English ales. Perhaps this is why it is marketed as an IPA now, except that it is too malty, not bitter enough, and doesn't really have an IPA-style hop profile. But who cares? It tastes great, and is probably Rogue's finest beer. I think that the reason Rogue's beers don't fit into the now-standard BJCP categories is because many of those beers predate the BJCP, or at least they predate the brewing industry's common acceptance of the BJCP style guidelines.

Back to Brutal Bitter - it is a great beer, really. It is very hoppy, robustly bitter (but in a balanced way), cleanly fermented, and with a rich caramel malt profile (not particularly toasty or biscuity). I would describe this beer as a hoppier, cleaner ESB. Famously, this beer is brewed with 100% Crystal hops, which must cost a small fortune, since they are extremely low in alpha acids, and so a massive amount must be used to get the beer as bitter as it is. I decided to make a similar beer with the same balance and focus on crystal hops, but at a slightly more sessionable strength. I ended up deciding to use an American super-alpha hop (Summit) for bittering, since it seemed wasteful to use so much crystal for bittering, and I like the bittering properties of Summit hops. Then I decided to fortify my domestic 2-row with a touch of Vienna malt to "up the ante" as far as malt profile. And I added a touch of wheat malt to smooth out the body and improve head retention. Rather than using a variety of crystal malts, I opted for a judicious dose of my "house specialty malt" which is Thomas Fawcett Medium Crystal (120 EBC or ~65L). I dosed it with crystal hops at 30 min, 10 min, flameout, and a big dose of dry hops - treating the hop profile somewhere in between an American IPA and an ESB, since that is how Brutal tastes to me. I fermented fairly cool and with WLP051 California V Ale yeast. I know that Rogue uses their house Pacman yeast for this recipe, but I had WLP051 on hand and since it is a relatively similar strain, I figured it wouldn't hurt to save myself some time and money and just go with this one. I mashed fairly low (150F) to keep it fairly dry. The result should be a medium-bodied, clean, hoppy beer with a rich malt backbone and without the usual-for-me citrusy hop kick.

The recipe:
Recipe: Crystal Ship ESB
Style: 14A-India Pale Ale(IPA)-English IPA

Recipe Overview

Wort Volume Before Boil: 8.50 US gals
Wort Volume After Boil: 5.50 US gals
Volume Transferred: 5.25 US gals
Expected OG: 1.055 SG
Expected FG: 1.012 SG
Expected ABV: 5.7 %
Expected IBU (using Tinseth): 46.7
Mash Efficiency: 75.0 %
Boil Duration: 90.0 mins
Fermentation Temperature: 64 degF

US 2-Row Malt 8lb 10oz (78.4 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Medium Crystal (120EBC) 1lb 0oz (9.1 %) In Mash/Steeped
US White Wheat Malt 12.00 oz (6.8 %) In Mash/Steeped
Canadian Vienna Malt 10.00 oz (5.7 %) In Mash/Steeped

US Summit (15.9 % alpha) 15 g Bagged Pellet Hops used 60 Min From End
US Crystal (3.3 % alpha) 30 g Bagged Whole Hops used 30 Min From End
US Crystal (3.3 % alpha) 60 g Bagged Whole Hops used 10 Min From End
US Crystal (3.3 % alpha) 90 g Bagged Whole Hops used At turn off
US Crystal (3.3 % alpha) 50 g Loose Whole Hops used Dry-Hopped

Other Ingredients
1 Whirlfloc Tablet used In Boil (10 min)
1/2 tsp Wyeast Nutrient used In Boil (10 min)

Yeast: White Labs WLP051-California Ale V

Mash at 150 degF for 60 mins